It’s become commonplace to hear individuals mention how things are either “good or bad” for their brands. This statement applies to entertainers, athletes, business professionals, social media stars, and the list goes on. Yes, it’s true that all of us have a brand whether we’re aware or not, and the reasoning behind this statement is that a brand is simply your reputation. A reputation molded by the impressions, memories, perceptions, and expectations that have developed in the minds of those who’ve had a personal encounter with the actions of you or your business.
And to expound on this, please always remember that your actions create “LASTING IMPRESSIONS.” Your lasting impressions create “MEMORIES.” A customer’s memory of their experience with your business creates a “PERCEPTION.” Perception in return creates an “EXPECTATION.” And finally, the manner in which expectations are met or not met creates a “REPUTATION” for your business, which becomes your brand. And this applies to whether you’re developing a personal brand or a corporate brand.
Although a larger number of individuals are grasping the realization that their actions impact their brands, how many are aware of how they’re seen in the minds of their current & potential audiences? More importantly, how can you determine the way your brand is viewed by those inside & outside of your business. There is actually a path for doing so, and it’s called positioning.
What is positioning?
Just stated, “positioning is how you’re brand, product or service is perceived in the minds of your target audiences.
And there is a method, an organized system for establishing & maintaining this positioning. My team and I at Cultural Sync developed a 12-point framework for guiding clients through the process of defining & implementing their positioning in the market, but we’re not the only ones. I’m sure there are hundreds of strategists and agencies with their own methods of defining positioning, but we have developed a framework that fits the mindset and strategic approach to how we work.
The concept of positioning was developed in the early 80s by Al Reis and Jack Trout, and although the principles of positioning have progressed throughout the years, the foundational elements remain true to this day. What’s confusing is that this concept has been around for over 30 years, and surprisingly a majority of companies and those leading personal brands have yet to take advantage of this powerful tactic.
The underutilization of positioning in companies may be a result of an internal tug of war among leadership, misguided advice from business consultants, or the simple fact of being unaware the method exists. If you take nothing else away from this article, please let it be the following, “your brand positioning is the most important element of your business strategy.” I’m sure you have a great business idea, and may even have the means to fund your plan, but what’s the vision, who’s your target audience, what’s your key differentiator, what’s your value proposition, and so on? These things and more, are answered by defining your brand positioning strategy.
When you place a focus on defining your brand positioning, and its structured to be clearly & simply communicated both internally within your organization and externally to the market, you’re on track for success. The impact is also felt in the effectiveness of your marketing. Defined brand positioning enables your marketing program to be more focused, engaging, and cost-efficient.
Who is brand positioning for?
Whether if you’re in the ideation phase, recently started a business, leading a company and not satisfied with its performance, or if you’re leading a market and having success, but desire to take the next step in its growth – positioning is for you.
There are too many brands in the market today satisfied with being undifferentiated from the competition, attempting to be everything to everyone and not clearly communicating why they’re the best option in the market. Do not fall into this category. Yes, positioning is not a simple process or one that’s established overnight, but the payoff is well worth the investment of time and financial resources. If you’re ready to take ownership of carving out the distinct place you own in the minds of your target market, if you’re ready to distinguish what makes you different from your competitors, if you’re ready to control “what you’re known for” in the minds of your ideal customers, make brand positioning a priority.
Positioning is a process that must be defined by your entire organization. The reason for this is because those that are involved are more likely to follow what’s established and the roadmap created. A positioned & clearly communicated brand is a strong brand and results in the ability to create awareness, loyalty, and organic ambassadorship among those audiences your business is built to serve.